The benefits of wearing sunscreen
by Freya • 5 minutes read
Last updated: 01 Jul, 2022
You may have heard that wearing sunscreen everyday can have a range of different health benefits, reducing signs of ageing being one of them!
It is important to protect your skin from UV rays as it is one of your largest organs and does a lot of work to keep you safe, including protecting your body from germs, enabling touch sensations, and regulating your body’s temperature.
Here are some of the health benefits of sunscreen.
Protects skin from sunburn
Sunscreen blocks and absorbs UV rays through a combination of physical and chemical particles. The physical particles, including zinc oxide and titanium oxide reflect the UV radiation from the skin. While the chemical particles react with radiation before it is able to reach the skin, they absorb the rays and will release the energy as heat.
This process fights against UVA and UVB rays, UVB rays are what cause sunburns and skin cancer, while UVA is likely to cause wrinkling and ageing of the skin as it penetrates the skin deeper.
Reduces sings of skin ageing
Wearing sunscreen daily can be beneficial at reducing the signs of ageing, UVB rays can damage the collagen and connective tissue of your skin.
According to one research review, frequent sun exposure can lead to photoageing, which is the process of the skin going through changes in epidermal thickness, dermal elastosis, degradation of collagen in the dermis, increases in pigment heterogeneity, development ectatic vessels and increases in mutagenesis of keratinocytes and melanocytes in the skin.
In other words, it causes a loss of elasticity, premature ageing, wrinkling, increased chance of skin diseases, and pigmentation.
Reduces risk of skin cancer
Research has shown that sunscreen can be effective at reducing the risk of skin cancer.
Harmful UV rays can lead to cancer of the skin, this is due to too much UV radiation that can damage the DNA of our skin cells. After a build up of damage, it can cause the cells to start growing excessively and lead to skin cancer.
Getting sunburnt once every two years can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer according to Cancer Research.
Reduces the risk of skin hyperpigmentation
Immoderate sun exposure can lead to hyperpigmentation, the skin becomes darkened in a inconsistent way, leaving blotchy marks over the exposed skin.
This can sometimes occur due to it being hereditary, however, it is also caused by sun damage.
The skin will try to protect itself from damaging effects of the sun, the production of the brown pigment called melanin increases, this makes your skin look darker. The sun can cause uneven increases in melanin production which then leads to hyperpigmentation.
Sunscreen and sun safety
Sunscreen helps prevent a range of different issues caused by the sun, so it is important to apply sunscreen everyday, even on cloudy days, especially if you have sensitive skin.
It is important to pick a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) that is at least SPF 30 to protect you from UVB rays and at least 4 star UVA protection according to the NHS. If you spend more time outside, SPF 50 will be more effective at protecting you.
In hot temperatures it is important to take other safety tips into consideration for the best possible protection, this includes:
Spend as much time in shade as you can
Avoid the sun between 10 am and 3pm if you can
Reapply sunscreen every 1-2 hours or after being in water unless it is water resistant
Cover up with suitable clothing and sunglasses
Wear a hat as your hair may not protect you from UV rays
There is currently no evidence that sunscreen is bad for you, however, a small study taken in 202 found that the body can absorb some of the chemicals found in some sunscreens, but it hasn’t been proven that this causes any health effects.
Disclaimer: We provide this information for educational purposes only. No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
- Skin - https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10978-skin#:~:text=As%20the%20body's%20largest%20organ,%2C%20acne%2C%20wrinkles%20and%20rashes.
- How does sunscreen protect you - https://www.yalescientific.org/2012/05/how-does-sunscreen-protect-you/#:~:text=Sunscreen%20works%20by%20blocking%20and,UV%20radiation%20from%20the%20skin.
- 5 Reasons To Use Sunscreen Every Day - https://www.parrishhealthcare.com/news/2020/july/5-reasons-to-use-sunscreen-every-day/
- Sunscreens and Photoaging: A Review of Current Literature - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8361399/
- Anti-aging and Sunscreens: Paradigm Shift in Cosmetics - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6773941/
- How does the sun and UV cause cancer? - https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/sun-uv-and-cancer/how-does-the-sun-and-uv-cause-cancer#:~:text=How%20can%20UV%20cause%20skin,can%20lead%20to%20skin%20cancer.
- Sun damage - https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/multimedia/sun-damage/sls-20076973#:~:text=To%20protect%20itself%20from%20the,(pigmentation)%20of%20the%20skin
- Shedding More Light on Sunscreen Absorption - https://www.fda.gov/news-events/fda-voices/shedding-more-light-sunscreen-absorption
- Sunscreen and sun safety - https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/seasonal-health/sunscreen-and-sun-safety/#:~:text=When%20buying%20sunscreen%2C%20the%20label,least%204%2Dstar%20UVA%20protection
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